Client Watch: Damar honors longtime dietary services director

For 30 years, Dottie Gillam has ensured that Damar clients are well-fed ... and well-loved.
Category: General
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On July 13 at 2 p.m., the staff and leadership at Damar Services will gather to enjoy punch and cake. But, for once, Dottie Gilliam won’t have to bake the cake. It’s being served up to celebrate her 30 years of service at Damar.

Since 1987, Dottie has managed the kitchen at the residential campus. That means she and her staff plan and prepare an average of 800 meals a day for kids living on campus, as well as those who attend Damar’s two schools and on-site ABA clinic.

Of all the meals she cooks, Dottie knows her fried chicken is a favorite, and she says she hasn’t met anyone who didn’t love her macaroni and cheese. “It’s the stick-to-your-rib kind,” says Dottie, a southern Indiana native who earned a restaurant, hotel and institution management degree from Purdue University. She had to remove another favorite, peach bread pudding, from the menu rotation because it had too much sugar and not enough fiber for the new school food guidelines. Instead, the kids and staff savor chocolate scotcheroos and peanut butter bars.

Such dietary restrictions and the increasing number of allergies among clients pose some of Dottie’s greatest challenges. Because of them, every meal includes 23 different menus, ranging from gluten-free and lactose-intolerant to diabetic and pureed.

Of her 30 years, she says, “The kids here grab hold of your heart. You feel for them and want to make life better for them. If that doesn’t happen, you don’t have any business being here.”

In the future, she looks forward to more growth at Damar. Whether it’s adding a new residential building or a program, she says, Damar will see growth, and the kitchen – which was new when she started in 1987 – will need some updating. “We’re redesigning an area of it now to accommodate our special-needs diets, but we’re really at capacity in terms of space,” Dottie says.

Dottie and her husband, Mike, live in in Clayton in Hendricks County. They love to ride motorcycles, boat and travel. Her stepson, Brad, lives with his family in Avon.

WHAT:    Celebration of Dottie Gilliam’s 30 years of service in Damar’s kitchen

WHEN:    July 13, 2 p.m.

WHERE:  Damar Services’ main campus, 8056 Decatur Blvd., Indianapolis

About Damar Services, Inc.

For 50 years, Damar Services has been a leader in providing services to children and adults challenged by autism and intellectual, developmental and behavioral disabilities. From its main campus on Indianapolis’ southwest side, a northeast side clinic and other locations across the state, Damar offers residential and community-based treatment, outpatient behavioral health services and ABA Autism Services by Damar. In addition, Damar operates two schools and provides foster care services. For more information, visit www.damar.org.

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